Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kendrick Perkins Is Not Limping Through that Door

Seems ridiculous to even use the phrase "not walking through that door" in the case of the Boston Celtics' Great Kendrick Perkins Caper.  Sports pundits like Mike Felger and Andy Gresh would have you believe that Danny Ainge got fleeced when he sent Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic and the rights to the Clippers' First Round draft pick in the 2012 draft (assuming that the NBA is still in business at that time).  Friends and followers alike were complaining that the Celtics suddenly had no chance to win.  Forget about the Celtics' 33-10 record this year without Perkins - including an 8-3 record against their heated opponents the Miami Heat, the Lakers, the Magic and the Chicago Bulls.  That's it; season's over.  Hopefully tickets to the Blake Griffin game will get cheaper than they are right now if that's the case!

Oklahoma? I thought that was the name of a Miami Hotel!  
Rick Pitino uttered that the Big Three (the old, gray ones named Bird, McHale and Parish) were not walking through that door when explaining the Celtics woes back in the 2000-01.  I used that phrase to describe that Kevin Garnett was back at the beginning of last year.  I never used it to describe Kendrick Perkins' impact on the Boston Celtics.  Not once.  So what's the problem now in letting him go?

When my boys found out that KP was traded, they're first two reactions were that (1) Nate Robinson (or as G likes to call him "Mini Man") was gone and (2) the Celtics were getting NBA 2011's stud from the Thunder, Jeff Green.  Losing Kendrick Perkins was an afterthought to them and should be to you as well.  Like I said, there's no problem in letting him go.

Consider the following:

1.  Kendrick Perkins Non-Factorability.  KP was a complete non-factor in his 4 years prior to KG and Ray Allen being traded to the team.  Of the two Playoff Series the Celtics played in his first four years (Indiana in 2004 and 2005), Perkins failed to take any minutes away from...Mark Blount and Raef LaFrentz.  Two total stiffs.  While not surprising, it demonstrates that Perkins was not leading any team anywhere.

2.  Howard's 20 Points and 15 Rebounds.  The Celtics have played 13 playoff games against the Magic in the Perkins era.  Dwight Howard, supposedly Perkins' nemesis, in those 13 games averaged 18.9 points and 14.2 rebounds against the Celtics, while Perkins only logged 7.4 points and 8.5 rebounds.  If you take away Game 3 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Championship (a disasterous blowout by the Celtics when Stan Van Gundy appeared to be on the verge of tears and where Perkins only played 20 minutes mostly off of Howard), Howard's numbers would swell to 20 points and 15 rebounds.  Howard's career regular season statistics (when stats are easier to come by)?  18.2 points and 12.8 rebounds.  The Celtics' Series record? 1-1.  So Perkins held Howard to numbers markedly better than his career numbers, while adding nothing offensively?  Uh, brian Scalabrine could have done that.

3.  Calls Against the Celtics.  Perkins was the poster boy for the new Celtics.  Always barking and taunting, always baiting the referees and always getting technical fouls...and never getting any calls.  The dirty little secret from the Celtics loss to the Lakers last year stemmed from fouls and free throws.  The Lakers attempted an astonishing 29 more free throws than the Celtics in Games 6 and 7.  Tommy Heinsohn is right.  The Celtics don't get any calls, period.  The reason?  Referees can't stand these guys and won't give any of them the benefit of the doubt.  Ainge realized that the road to the NBA Championship goes through LeBron, Duncan and perhaps, Durant and Kobe.  All notorious for getting reserved treatment to the foul line.  Perkins had to go just to make up this difference.  Ainge knows this.

Perkins was a decent player.  Don't get me wrong.  But he was a big man with knee troubles and only the 6th or 7th best player on this team.  If the Celtics don't win it all this year, it's because KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce couldn't hold up. It is certainly not because of a decent defender who averaged 8 points and 8 rebounds a game.  Good luck to him and to the Mini Man.  I'll give you a standing ovation next year if I see you play live.  But that's about the extent of it.

photo courtesy of

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Waterville Valley and Skiing for Novice Parents

It was a cold, empty January many, many years ago.  The trip up to Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vermont was harrowing, what with one or two inch per hour snow hitting our modest old style SUV as we drove up from Hartford, Connecticut to meet friends of our parents at "their mountain."  The fact that the drive was taking place at night made things even more scary for this youngster, who was looking forward to his first ski vacation.  In fact, the flakes were bouncing off of the light of the our headlights at such a rate of speed that I was surprised my Father could even see the road beneath him, much less the direction in which we were going.

Waterville Mafia
We eventually got to our destination safely, not without some tire problems, but still safely.  Safe was, unfortunately, not a word that I would use to describe my first time on skis.  Unable to stop at the base of the mountain, the morning after our revival, I had to make myself fall to avoid a family of four as they were coming out of the lodge to put on their skis.  We all had a good laugh at the time (at least that's how I remember it, I was 10 years old at the time so I was probably pissed that everyone was laughing AT me rather than WITH me), but my first attempt on skis on the modest bunny slope brought all of the laughter to a screeching halt.  In an attempt to stop on my first pass down the .0005% slope, I fell headlong into a snowy and steep ditch off the slope.  As I lay there thinking about whether I had any broken bones and why they built a bunny slope with a steep ditch off one side, I could here my horrified parents, concerned ski patrol, and even children younger than me hurdling toward me.  I had to lie still for what seemed like an eternity as they thought I was really hurt and moving was only going to make things worse.  Bruised pride was all I had suffered, but I was in such a contorted state that I needed help to get up any way.  

I vowed at that time never to put skis on again.  Fast forward more than 25 years later.

I ignored invitations to go skiing in High School.  I went to college about an hour from Sunday River and never skiied.  We've been to ski areas and did everything but ski.  I thought my vow all those years ago would hold up.  And then...the kids got the ski bug.  Crap.

Friends of the boys invited us up to their condo at Waterville Valley Ski Area this month so the kids could ski and the parents could get together for beers, apres ski.  We mentioned to our friends that we didn't ski and they described the many things that we could do.  We could go to Town Square (which is a small commercial area consisting of restaurants and stores about 5 minutes away from the entrance to the Mountain) and shop, snowshoe or cross country ski.  We could spend time at the lodge and have beers and lunch.  We could stay at the condo, go to the pool or the exercise room (as a condo owner, only).  Anything but ski, right?

How would the kids react skiing for the first time, though?  That was the important question.  We made the decision to throw them into the fire immediately by signing them up for the full day of Kids Camp at $90 per child.  Oh yeah, we also got hit with $22 in ski rentals and $13 for helmets for the day too.  Clearly this is not spending the day at the beach, monetarily.  It did include a lift ticket for the kids though, so I guess we got a deal?  Regardless, the college students running the program seemed nice and the kids all went into the main area with excitement and anticipation.  Despite their disparate ages, all three kids were considered "Explorers" rather than "Scouts" so they were all together, if anything went down, at least.  By the way I checked it out and there were no ditches off of the bunny slopes.

We then went on to take every one's suggestion to go to the Town Square, exercise and watch the kids' lessons from the bar attached to the base of the mountain, Buckets.  From our point of view at the outside patio of Buckets, it looked like everyone was having a great time.  And by all accounts, everyone did have a blast, so much so that not only did they want to go again the next day, but we actually considered it.   Ever since, instead of seeking ways to avoid ski talk and all things snow, we are actually considering renting a condominium for a week or two next year.  I don't think its going to be too long before I have wax up the skis.  Really?  Really.

What's next?  Starting to call the mountain I ski at "my mountain?"  I think my vow is going to be unvowed next year.           

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Simple Solution to the NFL's 18 Game Dilemma

The impending NFL lockout has me really concerned. What am I going to do next fall with my Sundays if the NFL players are locked out?  Where are my kids going to go on Sunday afternoons if I’m home, instead of watching football at Gillette? Things could get really sticky at the JMR household if I don’t have anything to stress over on Sundays at 6pm if I failed to cover at 1pm.

No!!!!!!!!         courtesy of
 I addressed one of the sticking points of the latest NFL labor troubles (and many would say the only sticking point) when I endorsed the revenue sharing model of the NFL introduced by a writer at Yahoo Sports. One of the other obstacles remains the owner's insistence on increasing the regular season from 16 games to 18 games. The two sides are pretty clear: the owners want to make more money on more games, and the NFL players want to make more money on more games. I frankly don’t believe that the increased likelihood of getting hurt is really a concern for the players association.  That doesn't stop this from being an issue though, so there have been a lot of attempts to compromise this issue.  Mandating that players may only play 16 games of the 18.  Reducing the number of preseason games to 2 instead of the usual 4.  Increasing the number of bye weeks from 1 to 2. The list goes on and on.

But there is one idea that I have not heard about in my research. Admittedly, my research consisted of searching Google for 5 minutes here or there during timeouts in kids basketball games and practices or while sitting in front of my kegerator drinking a Southern Tier, but even then I couldn’t find anything. I want to pat myself on the back just thinking of this solution.

Now one of the issues that the players have brought up as a real concern to the 18 game season (besides $$$ of course) is that the increased amount of playing time in an 18 game season (12.5% increase) will increase the likelihood of additional injuries. And not just a 12.5% increase, but more exponential than that because the injuries at the end of the year will increase significantly as players are more tired and banged up as the season (and real games) goes on. The owners feel like the increased schedule will help struggling franchises survive because of additional revenue sharing and potential for local revenues with only a small increase in overhead.  Fans and media alike are concerned about the integrity of records like Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record and Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage record that will be obliterated with 2 additional games. That's really laughable.  But, there is an easy solution to all of these issues (if these are truly the issues).

The standard 16 game regular season (no playoffs and no overtime) consists of 960 minutes of game time. The owners are clamoring for more games, and the players are clamoring that an increased schedule will lead to more injuries and worse dilute the product. Can you see the easy solution that will only marginally affect the integrity of the game?

52 minute games! 

Hear me out.

Players:  18 games of 13 minute quarters will actually REDUCE the total number of minutes that each team plays from 960 to 932 and will, according to the NFLPA, keep the number of injuries at a status quo with previous years.

Owners:  The Owners' contention will be that reduced game time will reduce the number of TV/Internet/Radio ads.  But I have a solution to that as well. An average 60 minute games consists of approximately 45 minutes of commercials (28 breaks of 90 seconds a piece) depending on the number of commercial breaks during a game. With the 12.5% reduction in game time comes a concomitant 12.5% reduction in advertisement time (5.5 minutes).  The way to increase the amount of commercial time without really affecting the quality of the product is to have a two minute warning in each quarter. This will lead to two additional breaks of 3 minutes. If the two minute warnings are increased to 2 minutes each from 90 seconds, this will actually increase game time advertisement by 5 minutes.  This system is employed by the NBA, which has TV timeouts after dead balls at 6 minutes and 3 minutes every quarter.  These games will also be able to fit easier into the 3 hour blocks that make TV scheduling so neat and tidy.

Fans/Media:  The integrity of the game will practically remain the same since the increased TV timeouts will permit more plays to be run in 52 minutes in my revised game than the first 52 minutes of the regular 60 minute game.  But the 18 game season will not result in all of the cumulative records to be broken similar to when the NFL increased the regular season from 14 games to 16 games in 1978.  The additional games will be a boon to fans and media alike allowing for more fantasy football, more gambling and more things to write about during the Fall and Winter.  Fans who complain about the time of games will be satisfied that the games will be closer to three hour affairs. 

This is a win win for everyone. The owners have their additional two games and the players don’t have to play any more because of it, but still share in the increased revenue. Statistical records remain mostly in tact and games are played faster. I'm in favor of the 18 game season and I'm really in favor of the Super Bowl being played on a holiday weekend.  Now if only they’ll let me into the mediation sessions.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 2011 NFL Lockout is Like Sibling Rivalry

Soon after the Super Bowl, G asked me when the next football game was going to be played. He was warming up to the Patriots to such an extent that he almost sat still to watch an entire quarter with me a couple of months ago. And normally after such a question, I would remark that the Super Bowl was the last game of the season and that we would have to wait until he was in school again after Summer Vacation before he saw another game.  I probably would tell him that if it were true or not, quite honestly.  But this season was a little different.  Instead of just saying the same thing I tell him every time he asks me that question, I decided to tell him the truth – good or bad. I thought that this would be a good teaching moment for the kid.

“There might not be football next year. The Owners and the players don’t get along.”

“You mean like when we don’t get along and you send us to our rooms for quiet time?” he asks comparing the NFL labor strife to the brotherly spats that often fill up the JMR household – particularly when Xbox time and bed times are at stake.

“No.  I mean that the owners and players both want to be paid more and if they can’t agree, then they won’t be paid any thing.” Kind of like you can’t have any dessert if you don’t eat your vegetables.

I'm rich and you're not!                           photo courtesy of KTBB
Later on after watching ESPN’s incessant coverage of the problems, and reflecting on the possibility of a season of no football, just as I was in the beginning stages of planning a September trip to Las Vegas, I again found it funny that my six year old son compared the impending lockout of the players on March 4 to the fights with his brother. Really, isn’t that what we’re talking about when we talk about how the Players and the Owners can’t find out a way to share $9 Billion in annual revenue – that everyone involved is acting like children?  For instance, do you notice the similarities here?

Jerry Richardson whines that the 2006 CBA was bad for owners and that they (the owners) should “take the game back” - similar to my older son taking the game (in this case his Nintendo DS game) back from his 6 year old brother if the younger brother has been playing it too long.

Richardson also complains that the Players want to be "paid more to work less." I know how this feels when my 6 year old asks for more allowance while lying on the couch letting his 4 year old sister pick up his Lincoln Logs. I’m not taking sides here, but aren’t the Owners endorsing an 18 game schedule? That seems like working more to me.

Player Representative Kevin Mawae went on record recently stating that the players don’t want anything more, they just want things to stay the same – kind of like when my 8 year old wanted to stay up until 10 every night because he got to stay up late the night before.

I get it.

Having been both a W-2 employee and a small business owner, I can see both sides of the equation. I don’t understand the amount of money at stake, obviously, but I understand the concept. The players have a limited window in which to make money in the sport (with many not having ANY contingency plans for life after football) so they need to make as much money as possible. The Owners on the other hand take all of the business risk of failing franchises, falling revenue and skyrocketing costs. And the Owners take their cut of the pie and have to pay for the overhead, stadium and debt. Even worse, you have players who need the money (Cromartie and his children) who don’t care about he union as much as getting paid and you have owners with different agendas – Jerry Jones make a ton of money on his stadium compared to someone like Jerry Richardson. This is really a disaster if you ask me.  But I like the solution that has been floated out there in recent weeks.

The current deal says that the Owners take the first $1 billion of League revenues (and not revenues that are local to a club like ticket sales, concessions and parking) and then the remainder of the revenues gets divided 60% to the Players (in the form of the salary cap) and then 40% to the owners. Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports had a good idea about a solution that I want to expound upon. Because this is a business to everyone involved, I think that it would be foolish to treat the players as employees when in reality what they are are partners with the Owners. So let’s consider the NFL a private equity firm partnership. The Owners are the General Partner and the Players are the Limited Partners. Each team is a part of the business' Portfolio. 

The first thing is to ensure a certain amount of revenues are league wide.  That would include TV and Radio Contracts, NFL Properties, Internet revenues and revenues related to the Super Bowl.  Revenues such as tickets, concessions, in stadium advertising and parking should remain the individual teams'.  After all, putting people in the seats and making them buy food, beer and stuff should be up to the individual teams.  And the Owners should use that team by team revenue to pay overhead and debt service.  The Players and the Owners would split these League wide revenues 75%-25% until the Players reached a set number.  Upon reaching that set number, the percentages would reverse so the Players would get 25%.  All this other stuff (rookie salary caps, franchise tags, etc.) should just go away.  Teams have to work within their budgets or fail trying.

And if the Owners and the Players can get along, they can stay up later and play video games.  Come back later this week to read about my solution to the 18 game dilemma.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vince Lombardi would Like Super Bowl XLV, I Think

How apropos.  A great piece about Vince Lombardi on ESPN yesterday coincides with what is expected to be one of the most rough and tumble Super Bowl in years.  Matching up the two toughest defenses in the NFL this year, the Packers-Steelers tilt may be remembered as one of the most bruising in Super Bowl history.

But will it?  Green Bay only played 6 of 16 games against playoff teams and only three of those games (Eagles, Patriots and Falcons) were against teams with offenses in the top half of the standings.  Similarly, the Steelers played only 6 games against teams in the playoffs.  Perhaps these defensive statistics were more of a result of their schedules rather than there true value.  In their last 3 games, Pittsburgh has scored 96 points (2 in the playoffs) and Green Bay has scored 90 points (all in the playoffs).  Both defenses have been beaten up all year and they are playing in a dome on the turf rather than the frozen tundra of Lambeau or what is considered one of the worst fields in the NFL (Heinz Field).  The over is looking better all of the time. 

But first, what do the kids think since they will be sitting next to me for the big game.

C:  Steelers.  "Because they beat the Jets and the Ravens."  We couldn't even remember who in the NFC the Packers beat, until C remembered it was the Falcons and the Eagles.

G:  Packers.  "Because I'm rooting for them and I think they are a good team." 

"That's a dumb reason, G, but OK, because [In a condescending voice] 'I like what ever Dad does.' " C chimes in thinking his answer is Pulitzer Prize winning.

DLG:  Packers.  "I don't like the Steelers because they steal, that's why."  Any other reasons?  "Nuh-huh!"  She shakes her head. 

JMR:  Steelers.  As time goes on during Super Bowl Week, I'm drawing to the conclusion that the Steelers are peaking a the right time.  They've played two of the toughest defenses (Ravens and Jets) and handled them easily.  I just can't get over how the Packers almost let a third string Quarterback on the Bears beat them a couple of weeks ago.  When they needed a game against these same Bears in Week 17, they almost failed to pull the game out.  I'm just not convinced that the Packers are as good as they are playing.  And don't forget that the Steelers are 9-1 against the spread in the Playoffs in their last 10 games.

Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger have been here two times before and know what to expect in the big game.  Aaron Rodgers and particularly, Mike McCarthy, appear shaky to me. 

Originally, I had the Packers winning the game 34-29.  While I still think the game will be high scoring, despite these defenses, I'm now of the mind that the Steelers are going to win this game 31-23.